The signature roast beef sandwich topped with cheese sauce and raw onions is worth a trip to Sheepshead Bay, Brookyn.
Even though I’ve made a career out of hating on Brooklyn in favor of Queens, my roots lie in the County of Kings where parents grew up. Perhaps my DNA makes me a sucker for the borough’s old-school neighborhoods and their culinary institutions. Today’s post is not about a certain antediluvian steakhouse in Williamsburg, but a rather another purveyor of meaty marvels: Roll ’n Roaster, a 50 year-old establishment that built its reputation on a rather sumptuous roast beef sandwich.
I was two years old in 1970 when Buddy Lamonica founded the Sheepshead Bay roast beef sandwich specialist whose slogan “We’re not so fast, Roll ’n Roaster,” became a staple of New York City late night TV in the 1970s. I didn’t grow up eating Lamonica’s creation—a glorious sandwich of thinly shaved roast beef drenched with gravy and topped with cheese sauce—that one of the restaurants many, many signs touts as “PERFECTION ON A ROLL,” but I wish I had. Instead we had Roy Rogers Roast Beef with horsey sauce. Imagine the greatness I would have achieved had I cut my teeth on Roll ’n Roaster instead of Roy’s! (more…)
Cherry Valley’s Fatboy (left) combines roast beef, gravy, onions and mozzarella while the Corona features a chicken cutlet, cheddar, bacon, onion rings, and barbecue sauce.
A while ago I told a friend who is a longtime Whitestone resident that I’d just tried out the excessive 80-plus sandwich emporium that is Cherry Valley. “You gotta go to Cristina’s across the street,” came his response.
So when my pal Rocky proposed a trek to Whitestone to check out the dueling delis earlier this week I was on board immediately. On the ride over I expressed some concern about my appetite level and intestinal fortitude. “Don’t worry, we’ll strategize,” my pal reassured me.
First up was the O.G. Cherry Valley. The one good thing about going to this popular post-partying munchie spot for lunch as opposed to 3 a.m. is there’s no line, which gave us plenty of time peruse the voluminous menu.
Having wisely decided to get rolls instead of heroes, we ordered one Corona and one Fatboy. I went for the Fatboy first since it was new to me. The combination of grilled roast beef, fried onions, and mozzarella bathed in brown gravy on garlic bread was a great way to start an afternoon of sandwich indulgence. For a creation called the Fatboy it was somewhat dainty. Not so the Corona, though. It was just as I remembered: smoky crisp bacon, chicken cutlet, cheddar, and onion rings anointed with tangy barbecue sauce made for an excessive finale to my Cherry Valley revisit. (more…)
There’s a theory put forth about food critics by a chef pal of mine. It goes something like this, “Robert Sietsema knows what he’s going to write before he even walks in the door.” As someone who considers himself a food writer and not a critic, I like to consider myself the exception to my buddy’s rule, but I know I’m not. Take the sandwich I had yesterday. I knew I was going to be in Manhattan for the afternoon and I knew I wanted something hearty, even meaty. I was thinking of a Cubano from La Taza de Oro, or something Italian. When I got to the City as we Queensites like to call it I was still undecided. So I put to the Twittersphere, specifically the maharajah of meat, Josh Ozersky. Within minutes a three word response, “Eataly. Roast Beef,” popped upon my phone. (more…)